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The Godfather: Part II
Crime, Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
Francis Ford Coppola
Al Pacino as Don Michael Corleone
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams Michelson
Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone
John Cazale as Fredo Corleone
Talia Shire as Connie Corleone Rizzi
Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth
Michael V. Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli
G.D. Spradlin as Senator Pat Geary
Richard Bright as Al Neri
Gastone Moschin as Don Fanucci
Tom Rosqui as Rocco Lampone
Bruno Kirby as Young Peter Clemenza
Frank Sivero as Genco Abbandando
Storyline: The continuing saga of the Corleone crime family tells the story of a young Vito Corleone growing up in Sicily and in 1910s New York; and follows Michael Corleone in the 1950s as he attempts to expand the family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood and Cuba.
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Better Than The Original? Maybe. Unbelievable Ride? HELL YEAH!!
The Godfather Part II is said by many to be the best sequel ever. I personally think that is arguable, since it arguably surpasses its proceeder and checking out the Lord of the Rings sequels and the Empire Strikes Back. Say this is the best sequel ever and I will not disagree. Say this is better than the first and I will agree. Honestly, I keep changing my mind about which instalment is better every time I watch them. This last time I watched them, the first one seemed better to me. The time before, this one was the superior picture. I don't care which is better, as long as I have 200 minutes of no interruptions while watching this.

With the success of The Godfather in 1972, it was only natural for there to be a sequel. The Godfather Part II acts as both a sequel and a prequel, with the sequel being written by Coppola and Puzo and the prequel being taken from the novel. When Pacino broke out in the first movie, he topped it one year later with Serpico. His performance in this tops Serpico and everything else he's ever done. Unfortunately, he lost his sure Oscar win to Jack Nicholson for Chinatown. Yes, Nicholson was worthy, but put him in the same category as Al Pacino for perhaps the best role ever and Nicholson becomes very unworthy. The people at the Academy probably thought Pacino would just get better and they could give him an award later. That would not come until 1993 when he won for a role in Scent of a Woman that was inferior to all that he did in the 70s. At least the Academy got the Best Picture win right. That was a given. Pacino's rival/friend/co- star, Robert De Niro took home the win for Best Supporting Actor, beating out their acting teacher, Lee Strasberg. De Niro became the first Oscar winner to not say a word of English. I don't know what it was about his portrayal, but there was some sort of magic contained with utter brilliance. Strasberg and Michael Gazzo where also fantastic, but both did not possess an unknown magic that few can bring to the table.

The prequel follows a child Vito Corleone who's family is poor. He witnesses his family begin murdered by Corleone's most powerful mob boss. He heads to America and grows up on the streets there too. Years later, an adult Vito (De Niro) rises to the top of New York's underworld and is determined to avenge his family's death. Revenge stories like this have been done to death, but almost none have been executed this good. The sequel takes place a few years after the first with Michael (Pacino) as the Don. After he successfully dodges an assassination attempt, ordered by Hyman Roth (Strasberg), Michael's fears about loyalty, betrayal and murder lead him to a severe paranoid state making him a deadly madman.

Both stories are less complex than the original, but both together make one hefty team. Al Pacino outdoes Marlon Brando and himself in one of the top five greatest roles of the screen. He leads an all-star cast in what is arguably better acting than the first. With most of this being arguably better than the first, Coppola's direction surpasses the first. The cinematography, sets and camera tricks beat out all the first had, which were great.
Travesty abounds.
The Godfather: Part II is not a sequel in the traditional Hollywood sense, rather a companion piece to one of the greatest films ever made in The Godfather. Here, the story is epic and sprawling, as it covers Michael's reign as the new head of the Corleone family by moving the business to Nevada and at the same time flashes back to show the story of how a young Vito Corleone came to power and started the story now being continued.

Francis Ford Coppola returns to his old ground with writing partner Mario Puzo to expand on Michael and establish Vito and doing so by going back and forth. This leads to some incredible shots of the young Vito and the young Michael in the same frame, a haunting image and symbol of how far this family has come. It also shows how far Coppola has come in terms of directing these films. Once again, his direction is immaculate in every sense, perfectly balancing the time between Michael and Vito, always picking the right time to go from story to story.

All this aside, I haven't even mentioned the other strong points, which are basically all of them. The flawless acting continues here with Al Pacino cementing his legacy in this very subdued yet emotionally upsetting performance as Michael, the youngest who seemed ostracized from his family at the beginning and now has all the power and success and none of the love or affection his father had. Indeed, one of the main themes of the film is to show how different Michael handles things from his father and whether or not he is a better leader. Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire and the tragic John Cazale all contribute so much in their roles, and Robert De Niro made his name known with a flawless performance as the young, ambitious and loyal Vito.

Once again, Gordon Willis photographs and once again the darkness shrouds the characters, symbolizing the heavy-handed situations surrounding them. This adds so much to the tone and atmosphere of the story that it completely takes us up in the story and makes the 200 minute running time fly by smoothly. The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II have long been recognized as required viewing for any film lover and I cannot argue. They are so well-made and engrossing that it is impossible to not feel for these characters and the choices they make.

The final two scenes are quite something to behold. The first is a flashback to see the kids waiting for Vito to surprise him on his birthday. Here, we see how Michael truly was treated and how Sonny, Tom, and Connie related to one another and how it colored the rest of their existence. The final scene is Michael, alone and contemplating everything that has happened. It is a scene for the audience to contemplate and wonder at the travesty that has abounded. And these two films are truly something to behold and admire for their sheer quality and intensity.
In Some Ways Even Better Than the First One...
Seven years after the first film, Michael Corelone (Al Pacino) continues his family's quest to become legitimate. Also, more on his father's growing up in Sicily and coming to America. With Vito being played not by Marlon Brando, but Robert DeNiro.) If you liked the first film, you will like this film. If you didn't, you won't. It's really that simple, since you have all the same great people coming together for this film with just as solid a script and acting as you did the first time. You lose Marlon Brando, but you get Robert DeNiro. I consider that a fair trade.

This film has two things going for it: it has the early years of Don Corleone, which really fills in the missing mythos around the family. Without this, the film would appear to show the Corelones were always powerful, which is far from the truth. It does not explain how Don Corelone grew to talk in such a mumbled voice, though.

Also, I really enjoyed the entire Cuba sequence, because it put the film in a historical time frame (and I like Cuba). I was never fully sure when the first film was taking place, but this one made sure I knew the years when Don Coreleone was growing up and that the present day was not 1974, but rather in roughly 1958-1959. That changed my perspective on things completely.

If you have invested three hours in the first film, invest three more in this one. Why only get half the story of Vito Corleone? I cannot make any suggestions for part three, though, one way or the other.
A Second Offer Is Harder To Refuse
Usually, a sequel is not as strong a film as the original. This one is every bit as good. I am thankful to have just viewed the Coppola 2007 restoration of this film.

At well over 3 hours, it is longer than the original. What is does is deftly fill in 2 stories that we saw small parts of in the first film. We find out how the Don, Vito Cordleone got his name, what his real name is, and the history that made him who he was in the first film.

The second story fills in more about his kids, particularly Michael, and how he took over in the late 1950's and his battles with one of his dads enemies. The back drop moves from Nevada to Sicily, and then to Havana. Michael faces down a series of folks including a Congressional Hearing about his life.

While this has no Brando, it has an excellent cast from the first film with some additional folks added. James Caan makes a brief cameo at the end of the movie. Talia Shire & Diane Keaton head up to female cast though these films seems to have a cast of 100's because there are so many parties & events.

The film keeps with the same strength as the first film, strong storytelling which brings you in and peeks your interest enough to keep you going. When you watch this, your always wondering what is going to happen next and who will get theirs.
Not Far Behind The First Film
This isn't quite as powerful as the first Godfather, done two years earlier, but it isn't far behind. It's another magnificently filmed effort, wonderfully acted and a hard film to stop once you've put it in your tape or DVD player.

What makes this a notch below the first Godfather is the absence of Marlon Brando and a little too much disjointedness with flashbacks. Also missing from this film was the volatile James Caan. He was shown in a flashback scene near the end, and that was it.

One thing was just as good if not better than the first film, and that was the cinematography. The browns, blacks, greens and yellows are just great treats for the eyes. I especially love the Italian houses and scenery. Why this was not even nominated for an Academy Award in cinematography is mind-boggling.

The story centers around the brutal vengeance of youngest brother Michael (Al Pacino). It also gives a good demonstration of how the gangster lifestyle may look attractive on the outside but really is an unhappy one despite the wealth.

There are some excellent supporting performances in this film, too. I especially would cite the roles played by Michael Gazzo and Lee Strassburg.
A great classic
I enjoyed this movie tremendously. It gracefully blends two times: the father's, who rises to power through his own forces, and the sons' who takes care of his father legacy and increases his influence.Vito and Michael are to wonderful written characters, with both qualities and flaws. Also, the action is very captivating and i loved seeing Vito put the New York's scum in their place ;) and revenge his father! Michael is very intense and, just like his father, does everything for the good of the family. Overall, this movie is definitely worth seeing and completes the first film perfectly. As Coppola wanted, they should have stopped here because the 3rd film isn't even close to the masterpieces the 1st and 2nd ones are.
Overwritten Script Takes Away from What Could-Have-Been
The sequel to "The Godfather," at times, was just as impressive, and sometimes even more impressive than the original. Overall, though the film struggles with it's flashbacks to an early New York as we watch a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), rise to power. "The Godfather II," wants to be both a prequel and sequel at the same time. When we're in the present time watching Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) fight off Senators that are trying to squeeze him, or when we're watching his house get shot up on an assassination attempt that involved someone very close to the family we always find our self in amazement. When we jump back in time, you get a feeling of intrusion. The script is to blame because its too bloated, and wants to accomplish so much in it's near three hour run time. When we're in the early 1920s we see things that are entertaining and gratifying, but ultimately not even close to being on par with the present day status of the Corleone family. Its good to know and see how the godfather started out, but there's too much to say and not enough time to say it. The bloated section of the film becomes underwritten. We don't really learn anything about Vito Corleone that we didn't already know. We don't really see how he gains his power. He kills "The Black Hand," and one day, through rumors, he becomes the Don of the city. Just like that. Just like that? Really? Then we come back and he's all of a sudden in the Olive Oil business. We don't know how he got there or anything, he's just there. De Niro gives it his best, but he's just not working with anything to give any kind of performance that's remotely on the same level as Brando did in the previous film. I found it painful to watch De Niro try to imitate Brando.

When we see the city, it does have a good look to it, and its convincing as the set and costumes designs, along with the art direction, are very good. We never see big wide shots of the city block. We see a lot of people and grocery stores go by the quickly moving camera. Coppola does an excellent job of not pulling back too far (Probably didn't have the budget to make a huge set of the city), but we get a claustrophobic sensation. The kind of claustrophobic sensation where a guy right next door, in the next building, is close enough to stick his head out the window, call for you, and hand you a sack full of guns. Coppola encapsulates the city, and the time very well. There are some great moments in the flashbacks, but I could have lived without it entirely, and probably would have watched a much better film (Possibly better than the original).

When Michael finds that his own brother, Fredo (John Cazel), knew about the assassination attempt on his life, and that he was involved and that he never told Michael about his connection with Hymen Roth and Johnny Ola, it infuriates Michael to the point of no return. He feels as though he loses his family. When he confronts Fredo, he doesn't say much; he's sick of him; Fredo's too stupid to have around, and he can't even look at him. Coppola' direction here is magnificent. Even though its dark and you can't see the reactions of both of the men, they're both in the picture with the light shinning through the windows creating silhouettes of the men that were, and we see their body language, and the body language tells us everything we need to know.

Cazel gives a great performance throughout the entire film, and we wish we got to see more from his character. He's so good in this one scene that it stands as one of the best scenes in film history, and a huge part of that is due to him. The words that come out of his mouth are on par with Marlon Brando' speech in, "On the Waterfront." All this frustration, years of it, just boil over to point of pity. He's pleading with his brother. We watch him spill his guts on the table, and admit that he's well aware of being stupid and feeding into that stereotype as he watches his younger brother give him orders we feel his pain and frustration for not living up to the coldness and callousness of his family. He feels like an outsider, a coward, and a loser. All the while, Michael sits in front of the window looking at the boathouse. He doesn't care what Fredo has to say, which makes it all that more painful to watch for the both of them. Michael wants information from him, and that's it. One feels like an outsider, and one is an outsider. Neither of them fit in this lifestyle, but it ruins both of their lives. Fredo wants respect and power. Michael has the power, but no respect, and finds out that he loses everything that he ever cared about: his family. Its one of the most powerful scenes in cinematic history.
More ambitious and grand in scope, Part II packs a powerful emotional punch
Given complete control over the directorial proceedings by Paramount, and a much larger budget to boot, you would be forgiven to think Francis Ford Coppola had it good when, two years after the release of The Godfather, the studio convinced him to direct The Godfather: Part II. Despite this free reign, Coppola still faced challenges – most important being the daunting task of matching the first picture, creatively and financially. There are many critics who regard the second part of the Corleone saga as not only equal, but superior than the first, and while I don't think Part II is as "classic" as it's original, I can concede without hesitation that this is the more ambitious and grand in scope, and certainly more powerful as an exercise in tragedy.

The Godfather: Part II continues the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), established in the end of part one as the new Don of the Corleone crime family, who has moved all their interests out to Nevada. Michael looks to expand his empire and invest in businesses in Havana and Miami, where Hyman Roth (one of his father's aging ex-partners) resides. When betrayal comes from where he least expects, Michael must make decisions and sacrifices, however difficult, to save his family, and in doing so will perpetually change who he is as a person. Throughout Michael's ordeal, Coppola flashes back to the turn of the century, where a young Vito Corleone (then Vito Andolini) must flee Sicily when he becomes hunted by the local Mafioso at the age of only nine. As an immigrant, we are shown the rise of Vito (Robert De Niro from young adulthood onwards) as a man of respect, loyalty, enormous generosity and ever growing authority on the streets of New York.

Coppola must be given due for the transitions between the two parallel story lines, which are absolutely seamless. They come at natural breaks so as to not take away from the pacing of either narrative, and the episodic approach to covering thirty-odd years in the young Vito storyline is perfect for keeping the audience on the edge of their seats for the developments in the Michael story. With the interconnectedness of the narrative, Coppola encourages a contrast of the way Michael and Vito take control of their respective families – what decisions they make, what they value – and this helps to further punctuate and underline the film's harrowing final scenes.

In keeping with the tone of the first picture, Part II sees the return of Gordon Willis' dark, under lit photography, and Nino Rota's memorable, distinctive score (largely utilising the same cues as the first, with the addition of a few new themes including the magnificent "The Immigrant"). The acting across the board is quality – just as it was in the original. John Cazale has a larger role here as Fredo, whose outburst at being stepped over as the family Don is as forceful and potent as any in his regrettably short career. Newcomers to the picture give excellent supporting turns, Michael Gazzo as caporegime Frank Pentangeli and Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone, preserving Brando's famous gesture and manner, but it's Al Pacino's picture through and through – his Michael is so intense, but yet is an empty shadow of his former self. By the end of the picture, Pacino's beady black eyes are cold: completely stripped of life, and reflect upon the tragedy of the loss of the family he committed all his power to trying to protect. It's a haunting, powerful, parting frame that lasts.
As good as the original...
Sequel to the original Godfather is slower moving than the original but maybe better. The first was fresh material and Brando's presence was a huge plus. But this one digs into the blood and guts of the two main characters, provoking more thought, as well as introducing us to one of the most prolific actors today.

Michael's descent into darkness is terrible to behold. Tragedy surrounds him as he struggles to maintain his empire but alienates himself in the process. Hey, it's not easy holding a crime empire together. I think this film sets out to make Michael a tragic figure but how do you feel sympathy for a guy who murders family members? It's a cold world obviously, and takes a strong man to stay on top. Very interesting final scene, grim and stark, as Michael sits contemplating on a chair watching the dead leaves blow around him.

Pacino's performance is magnificent. Some great scenes, especially when Michael realizes Fredo betrayed him. That simple movement of covering his forehead in shock and despair conveys so much. Michael becomes a three dimensional character in this film as opposed to the first. Pacino just nails the part.

The secondary story is the rise of Michael's father, Vito Corleone and we watch the birth of a star. DeNiro even surpasses Pacino in his part, if that is possible. The calculating Vito as he calmly stalks Don Fanucci from the rooftops is classic film. DeNiro plays the role of Death himself: knife thin, pale yet slick and immaculate in appearance. How many other hit men in the movies borrowed DeNiro's look?

What the Godfather does, unlike so many other films of it's generation is convey thought in simple movements. Watch DeNiro as he pales visibly, staring at an old Italian remedy of his sick baby. We know right then that Vito Corleone will do whatever it takes to protect and save his family. Watch him as Don Fanucci boards his car and leans on him. By DeNiro's expression, we know Fanucci is already a dead man. That's unsurpassed acting.

The sets are beautiful to behold and this is probably the best cinematography I have seen in any movie. Early 1900's New York, in the Italian neighborhood is unreal. Watch the pedestrians and background movement while the focus of the scene is occurring. That's sheer magic. Once again, watch Hyman Roth in Cuba lie on the couch, shirtless and a gentle wind moving the drapes. We can practically feel the heat and hear and smell the city of Havana. It made me think how much care and calculation was put into this movie.

Some weak points: Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth was not on par with the other actors. Gazzo as Pentangeli just grated on my nerves, especially in the first hour. I was hoping he would get whacked so he would not appear in the rest of the film. The rest of the cast is great as usual, especially Duvall and Kirby. Not much to complain about.

The second Godfather, tries to do what the first does, a study of Vito vs. Michael. They both have different motivations for ruling their empire. Whereas Vito tries to do whatever it takes to rise from poverty and provide for his family out of love, Michael rules out of ruthlessness and a need to succeed to maintain his empire. You can see where the results have taken both.

One of the greatest films of all time.
Requiem for a Dream
You can write the volumes about the Godfather Part II phenomena. There is nothing that has not been said about it greatness, magnificence, perfection that radiate in every aspect, every moment, every inch of every frame, every performance, quote, glance, in the sound of the music, in both parts of the story, past and present that take the viewer to the journey in search of American Dream that turn to the epic vision of gaining ultimate power coming with ultimate loneliness. The story of one family of Italian Immigrants begins in Sicily in 1901, goes to New York City's "Little Italy" and spans over the most part of the 20th century. The viewers and the critics often argue which film is better, the original Godfather (1972) or Part 2. (1974). Both films are perfect in every way, and the vision and movie-making talent of a young director named Francis Ford Coppola are simply awesome. His idea of making an American epic, the story of one family raise to power, the price it takes and the eventual fall instead of a low budget fast moving gangster movie as the MGM studio had planned proved to be the stroke of genius. It is not easy to choose the best of two but I prefer Part II because I found the way Coppola tells two parts of the story by intertwining them and cutting effortlessly, seamlessly between the different time periods and geographic locations - incomparable. Yes, it's been done before and after him but never was I touched so deeply and amazed by the artistry and brilliancy of moving between past and future. I am surprised that the film was not rewarded for the editing because the team of editors contributed enormously in what is the magic of The Godfather, Part II. The film is unique by being at the same time a prequel and a sequel to the original Godfather because it tells the stories of young Vito Corleone first steps to the top of the criminal world and of Michael, his youngest son who became Godfather after his father passing. Part 2 has the most important scene in the whole trilogy, the scene when Vito kills Don Fanucci - the choice that would eventually lead to his raise as the crime family patriarch. I can go on forever. It is known how many great performances Al Pacino gave back in the 70s, his prime time (four Oscar nominations in the row, 1973-1976) but Michael Corleone in Part 2 is something that has to be studied and admired for as long as the young aspiring actors dream of not being stars but the ACTORS. I am not a fan of Pacino's latest films and roles. He screams a lot, he overplays but all screams can't say more than one glance from the scene during the New Year Celebration in Habana. He said so much by his eyes only that had literally darkened with disbelief, grief, anger, and despair when he realized that he had been betrayed by his own brother Fredo - who broke his heart and left the viewers heartbroken. John Casale had only given five performances during his tragically short career but every one of them was remarkable and every movie he worked in belongs to the best America has produced. ...Robert de Niro speaking only Italian as young Vito gives one of his finest performances speaking. He plays a beautiful, dignified, decent man, hard working, loving father and husband who would stop at nothing to make his family happy the best way he knows how... And above all - the melancholic, melodious, mournful score by Nino Rota, the Requiem for a dream, the best Rota's tunes outside Federico Fellini films, As great as it is, Godfather Part II would never be the same without musical themes written by Nino Rota specifically for the film, especially the main theme or the Kay theme - the sound of love lost and longing... And in the end - perhaps the best flash back scene ever filmed, Christmas and Vito Corleone's birthday celebration - the family is close together, the grown up children sit around the table, talk about future, some choices have been made, but there is no alienation, betrayal, losses, regrets, death....yet.
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